The cigarette tax increase is a public health intervention and its intention is to reduce the number of smokers in Indiana.
Your Feb. 18 editorial [Legislature’s goals are good ones] argues “a $1 increase in the 99-cent-per-pack cigarette tax is huge—especially for people who are addicted,” but it fails to understand the intent of raising that tax.
Rather than lament what a current smoker stands to lose financially with a $1 cigarette tax hike, let’s examine what that smoker stands to gain. If a two-pack-a-day smoker quits as a result of the tax increase, he or she would save $4,000 by not purchasing tobacco products and avoid $8,000 in associated health care costs annually.
Implementing a plan that raises the tax, funds tobacco cessation and prevention programs, and removes preferential treatment for smokers all work together to help people who are currently addicted to tobacco and keep many from ever starting.
Giving up tobacco is no easy task, which is why the Alliance for a Healthier Indiana has consistently advocated for additional funding dedicated to tobacco cessation and prevention. This plan offers Hoosier smokers the chance to quit successfully: a chance that they deserve, because there’s never been a smoker who quit and regretted it.
Community Health Network CEO and chairman of Alliance for a Healthier Indiana
Founding dean of the Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health